Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaking with Ali Shamkhani. Undated

US, E3 Play Good Cop Bad Cop Over Nuclear Deal, Says Iran Official

Thursday, 06/06/2024

A high-ranking aide to Iran's Supreme Leader, purportedly entrusted with Iran's nuclear negotiations said the US and the E3 have been orchestrating a "good cop, bad cop" dynamic to navigate Iran's responses.

“From the JCPOA until the recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting, in compliance with their roles as good and bad cop, the US and the European Troika have been trying to manage Iran’s reactions to their misbehavior by creating false hope in Iran. They have never been successful & never will be,” Ali Shamkhani wrote on X.

On Wednesday, the Board of Governors of the UN nuclear watchdog passed a resolution censuring Iran and demanding it resolve outstanding issues with the IAEA regarding its nuclear program.

The resolution, initiated by the E3 coalition, France, Britain, and Germany, garnered substantial backing, with 20 member states endorsing it. Notably, the dissenting votes came from China and Russia, staunch allies of Iran. Additionally, 12 countries opted for abstention during the decision-making process.

The United States was widely reported to have opposed the resolution in the days leading up to the IAEA board meeting. Seemingly, Washington was concerned that Tehran might respond to the sanctions with an expansion of its nuclear program marked by the enrichment of uranium and the stockpiling of enough fissile material for several warheads.

Shamkhani had previously stated that Iran would retaliate against any condemnation from the IAEA board. "If some misguided European countries intend to adopt a hostile stance towards Iran's peaceful nuclear program at the upcoming IAEA Board of Governors meeting, on the eve of Iran's presidential elections, they will face a serious and effective response from our country,” Shamkhani had warned.

The Iranian state media also reacted by suggesting that the UN nuclear agency's Board of Governors resolution was premature, particularly given the recent death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash and the upcoming snap elections.

The Iran-based Fararu news site highlighted “the current executive vacuum in the country” and expressed doubts about “the temporary decision-makers' ability to reach a conclusive decision” regarding nuclear matters.

Another news outlet, KhabarOnline, took a particularly bleak stance, suggesting that "The European Troika [E3] is preparing the groundwork for the activation of the 'snapback' mechanism."

The term "snapback" denotes the procedural mechanism outlined in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, pertaining to the potential reinstatement of UN sanctions and constraints on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This resolution endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, formally recognized as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In 2015, Iran and several global powers, including the United States, signed the JCPOA, which imposed significant constraints on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. However, then US President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018, citing its purported failure to effectively address Iran's missile program and regional influence. Consequently, Iran has continued to disregard the stipulated limitations on its nuclear endeavors. The UN nuclear chief, Rafael Grossi, recently said Iran was “weeks not months” away from a nuclear weapon in spite of Tehran denying it has ambitions for a nuclear weapons program.

Since then, Iran has been non-cooperative with the IAEA on various frontsand tensions between Tehran and the agency have steadily escalated. The Iranian administration has dismantled surveillance apparatuses, rebuffed senior inspectors' access requests, and withheld information regarding the whereabouts of new nuclear installations. This stance persists despite Iran's assertion that its uranium enrichment endeavors are exclusively for civilian applications and disavowal of any intention to pursue nuclear armaments.

As per an IAEA assessment, Iran is enriching uranium up to 60% purity, nearing the 90% threshold indicative of weapons-grade material. Moreover, it has stockpiled sufficient material for further enrichment, potentially yielding three nuclear warheads.

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